Study: Marijuana component effective in combating chemotherapy-induced nerve pain

Oct 24, 2011

Research continues to show cannabinoids are remarkably helpful for symptomatic as well as therapeutic treatment in cancers. Inhaled cannabis has a long history of use by some patients to mitigate pain without the sedating side effects of opiates. THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, has been shown to restrict metastases and growth in a variety of tumor cell lines. THC as Marinol, FDA approved, has been used in humans to mitigate nausea and vomiting side effects of chemotherapeutic agents for 25 years. In recent years, CBD (cannabidiol), a non-psychoactive constituent of the resin from some cultivars of cannabis, has also been found to work in concert with THC, through different mechanisms to inhibit or kill tumor cells. Now CBD is shown to prevent the dose limiting side effect of chemotherapy for advanced breast cancer in mice, according to data published in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia.

Paclitaxel, used in advanced breast and ovarian cancer chemotherapy, causes nerve and muscle disturbances in “up to 93%” of patients. That is, Paclitaxel can cause severe pain to minor stimuli, limiting its usefulness in those patients. If use in humans was possible, CBD, which is non-toxic and non-psychoactive, would be an important contribution both for symptomatic and possible therapeutic benefit to patients afflicted with ovarian or breast cancer. Given the harmless profile of CBD in pre-clinical studies in a wide variety of cancers, it should be available as an alternative for any cancer patient. Being found in marijuana, a Schedule I drug, it is not available for any therapeutic use. In Europe and Canada, the combination of CBD and THC is available by prescription.


Dr. Joseph McSherry, a neurologist from Burlington, VT, was one of two physicians to serve on the Medical Marijuana Study Commission, which was established by the Vermont Legislature in 2002. His support and testimony helped Vermont become the ninth medical marijuana state in 2004. Even after his success in his home state, Dr. McSherry continues advocating for patients’ rights to use medical marijuana, including in New Hampshire, Iowa, Delaware, and Washington, D.C., by testifying at hearings, reaching out to doctors in other states, and meeting with lawmakers.

Dr. McSherry is a guest blogger for the MPP blog.

7 responses to “Study: Marijuana component effective in combating chemotherapy-induced nerve pain”

  1. Great article, nice to see a Dr. Blogger also. As we await a medical bill to be introduced in Wisconsin for the 2011-2012 legislation cycle, this is the type of information we think is vital in sending to your legislators.

  2. Good article, we need to de-criminalize marijuana for a number of reasons, and this points to the importance of further research. Additionally, the number of useless incarcerations and the social cost of penal institutions in terms of tax misuse and the stigma associated with felony status acquisition leads me to wonder if social control and wealth enhancement aren’t the primary reason for this sorry state of affairs.

  3. This is also some great news that Illinois officials need to hear,Illinois fell only a few votes short of being medicaly legalized,I personaly know of the medicinal qualities of medical marijauna and as I grow older my chronic pain worsens but I will wait until legal before talking to my doctor about using it.

  4. The real reason to keep it illegal is to protect the interests of Big Pharma and the rest of the medical cartel. They can’t have their profits threatened by any back-yard grower! Since many of the elected officials are connected to those industries and interests, they will continue to write the laws for their benefit, not for “We the People”! Isn’t this a violation of anti-trust laws or something? Why don’t we have constitutional protection for medical freedoms, just as there are for religious? How can the Pres and rest of the gov’t officials favor which science is propogated, believed, and used to write laws? Why is “selective science” acceptable?! Why is it acceptable for them to harm the citizens of Mesa County, CO with a neuro-toxic, carcinogenic pesticide, then deny and restict access to the medicine and livelihoods needed by many?

  5. Legalize it. It’s healthier than sugar. The following “highs” are worse than marijuana:

    – sugar
    – caffeine
    – alcohol
    – sex (yeah no wonder the elite THINK we have an over population problem. Stop prohibiting spirituality from cannabis.)

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